October 31, 2012
By David Huff
Born Villain or Antichrist Superstar?
A Candid Conversation With The Mechanical Animal
"The truth is I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't."
That insightful observation was made by the immortal pop icon Marilyn Monroe. In truth, it could be the mantra of Marilyn Manson's creator Brian Warner. Let's get one thing straight. This Canton, Ohio native is no idiot. In fact, he doesn't suffer fools lightly. Society begs for sensationalism and Warner gave it to them with his controversial alter ego. The name, a combination of Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe and death cult leader Charles Manson, makes a mockery out of the very society that made them both famous, though for totally different reasons.
Launched in 1990 as Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, the band slowly evolved from an obscure novelty act with serial killer / pop star anagram names. As they honed their stage presentation and music, Warner made friends with a burgeoning underground star named Trent Reznor. A bond instantly formed between them. Both artists had led sheltered lives in small town America. They had both gained their life experiences from watching movies, TV, reading books and writing. The friendship these two struck up one night at a south Florida club would one day pay big dividends for Marilyn Manson when Reznor's rising star enabled him to strike a deal with Atlantic Records. They would fund his own record label, aptly entitled Nothing. Reznor promptly signed Marilyn Manson to his imprint.
Three albums in four years found Marilyn Manson the heroes of the disenfranchised youths of America. Warner's androgynous look had bewitched a legion of ‘goth' followers the world over. Statements on Marilyn Manson concert shirts that read "Kill Your Parents... Kill God... Kill Yourself" made him equally the scourge of all adults as well. Warner achieved the fame he craved in a relatively short time. When that growth spurt had run its course, it was time for Marilyn Manson to face reality. Goths eventually grow out of their "dark" phase and move on. Warner has evolved as well. Yes, he still reads philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche and the essays of occultist Anton LeVay, but the shock value of what he once portrayed has worn off.
The spring 2012 release of his eighth album, Born Villain, which Warner calls "more romantic" yet "self-abusive," finds the artist doing an about face with the music. One reviewer from the Ottawa Sun cited the music on Born Villain as Warner musing about destructive love, pondering his humanity and quoting Macbeth, while riding a downward spiral of slow-grinding goth-metal and glam-slam.
Whatever version of Warner you want him to be, as Marilyn Monroe so shrewdly put it, Manson will surely accommodate. Why not? The nerd who was bullied as a child has grown up to be a star.
JAM: Let's clear up this much talked about incident that took place in Salt Lake City in 1994 that put Marilyn Manson on the map. Your group was banned from playing the Delta Center as special guests of Nine Inch Nails. What exactly had the band done to force the building manager's hand to actually cancel your appearance, which was unheard of at the time?
Brian Warner - The reality of it I guess. There had to be some money motivation behind it. I don't think anyone really cared about the kids that were at the show, or about morality.
JAM: The Jim Rose Circus was on that bill as well. Rose was infamous for stapling U.S. currency to his forehead and driving nails into his nose. For kicks, you could through darts at his back. As for the rest of his troupe, your stage antics paled in comparison to Mr. Lifto, the Torture King, and especially the Enigma. It's hard to believe that the Jim Rose Circus didn't offend their senses, but an unknown Marilyn Manson did?
I don't have an answer for that one. In fact, I watched Jim Rose perform that night. He definitely out did our band as far as the definition of obscene goes. Of course, I didn't consider his performance obscene. It was pure art as far as I was concerned. Later, I found out that the people in charge of the building had heard things about our band that made them quite uncomfortable.
JAM: You were a totally unknown band when Trent tapped Marilyn Manson to tour with him on his Downward Spiral tour.
I guess when they book shows there, they do some sort of research.
JAM: The facility researched the opening acts and deemed you more offensive than Jim Rose? (laughing)
Apparently, but I don't know exactly. Evidently, our onstage reputation had preceded us. There were a few elements of our show they had heard about. For instance, they were aware that sometimes I take my pants off on stage. They asked me not to do that. I told them I really don't have a problem with that request. I don't do it all the time, maybe I don't have to do it there. Then they came and saw our show in Las Vegas.
JAM: The building managers flew to Las Vegas to see your performance?
JAM: (Laughter) Unbelievable!
Yeah, they were really going out of their way to check us out. After seeing the show, they decided the lyrics and the way I spoke to the crowd was offensive. They termed my overall gestures and stage presence to be obscene. They had a long list of things they considered offensive, like Marilyn Manson sings about suicide, murder, sex with minors, pedophilia. That's why we weren't allowed to play.
JAM: Let me get this straight. The managers of the Delta Center in Salt Lake City flew into Las Vegas to catch your show.
JAM: They found you offensive, but considered the Torture King, who ate light bulbs, pierced his body with meat skewers and perpetrated other assorted punishments to his body, harmless?
Listen, I know. To this day, that whole episode doesn't make sense. I remember Trent Reznor went into this long harangue at the end of his show that night about the whole thing, and pretty much put them all in their place. He asked me to come out on stage. I brought with me a Mormon bible and held it up to the crowd. I asked them if they want this book to run their lives. The audience shouted back "No!" I told them I couldn't play because I was a sinner and I asked the crowd if they were sinners. They all said "Yeah!" Then I ripped up the Bible and threw it out into the crowd. I think Michael Jackson was a Mormon at one time, if that tells you anything.
JAM: Your family moved from Canton, Ohio to South Florida in what year?
We moved in 1987.
JAM: Why did your family move?
I think it was an occupational thing. I hated Florida instantly, but in hindsight it worked out for the best. It was hot down there and I couldn't find any friends to save my life. I sort of retreated into reading and writing a lot, which is what I really wanted to do. I found that I had a hard time getting people to read what I was writing, these ideas that I had. One time I did a spoken word thing at an open mic night at this club. I could hear people's reactions to my work immediately. I sort of got my first taste for what was to come. During that time is when the name Marilyn Manson came to me. Incorporating the name of a beloved Hollywood icon with the name of a brutal cult leader had a sense of irony attached to it. I also thought the pseudonym was also reflective of the ideas I was writing about.
JAM: Were you living in Ft. Lauderdale then?
Yes. The name for me came out of the fact that Marilyn, by itself, instantly identifies with one person. Manson, by itself, instantly identifies that person. Adding them together I thought was interesting. If you look at the positive / negative connotation of the name, as well as the male and female aspect involved, it made sense. I didn't have that specific idea in mind when I came up with the Marilyn Manson name. As the name took on a life of its own, those nuances started to come into focus.
JAM: I guess you could call it another stirring revelation on the road to self-discovery?
If you put those two extremes together, you have something that very much had no boundaries. It transcended sexuality, morality and other labels. That name really represented what I was writing about at the time. This self-analysis is how I perceived myself. I met our guitarist who had music, but no lyrics, and I had never sung before obviously. I told him about some of the ideas I wanted to get across. So we got together and wrote a couple of things, including "My Monkey" and "Dogma". They appear on the first album. Those songs were the birth of the band Marilyn Manson. From there we found other people for the band that were in to what we were doing. Musicianship was never really the first criteria.
Daisy (Scott Putesky) was a cool musician, but I thought this was a situation where we could learn and grow together as a band. It was far more important to find people who were "in" to what this was about so it could go on for as long as possible.
JAM: When this band finally stood under the lights in a national stage setting, did anyone really know what this band was going to be about?
To a certain degree, yes! Initially, as things grew and developed, the band and the show sort of coagulated into this controversial thing it became. The intention was always there to bring the music and the stage show to many different levels, where it almost became kind of schizophrenic. The name Marilyn Manson was obviously so fake, so beyond fake, that I never saw it becoming real to people. AS far as I was concerned, Marilyn Manson was a character anyone could assume. Taking on the persona of a made-up character didn't make me special. I just happened to do it. On another level, it was always a mockery of the fact that show business and the media are nothing but lies. Once you realize everything they are telling you is false, admit to yourself you're a hypocrite, you can then sort of figure out which lie works for you and go somewhere with it.
JAM: While you were living in Ft. Lauderdale discovering yourself, did you follow the controversy surrounding 2 Live Crew and their sexually charged lyrics at the time?
Yes I did.
JAM: Let me preface this question by saying did the impact they have on the nation's media regarding their controversy have any effect on the way you wanted to present Marilyn Manson?
We formed right before all of that went down. When that happened, we were a little curious we hadn't received any repercussions like 2 Live Crew had. We were in the same city, and at times played to bigger crowds than they did. They weren't really that popular, not the way they were painted out to be. The media was very selective on who they wanted to pick on. I think it may have been, what they said, a race thing because they were targeted. We had done things much more controversial than 2 Live Crew ever thought of doing. I don't have an answer to that. I will say that incident inspired us to push that envelope even further than we were already doing. Luther Campbell put that chip on our shoulder to push the boundaries of what we were doing to the extreme and really make a dent.
JAM: I never paid much attention to the rap 2 Live Crew's music received, but I did tip my hat to Luther Campbell for doing a brilliant P.R. job promoting the group. Did any of his outlandish marketing ploys affect your branding ideas concerning Marilyn Manson to get some of the results he achieved?
I never considered them. Marilyn Manson was never quite that contrived where I thought I had to do this so that could happen. For us, it's always been about being in the right place at the right time doing what we do. This band never tried to do anything for anybody but ourselves. I'll admit it's in our nature to push people's buttons. It's like a high school science project. Marilyn Manson was always meant to represent what people are afraid of and then ask them why. We evolved from that concept.
JAM: You mentioned right place at the right time. Would that pertain to your first meeting with Trent Reznor?
JAM: How did you meet him?
We happened to meet up at one of his club shows in south Florida. His band was sort of an underground thing at the time. No one really knew who they were, and the two of us just happened to meet up. We found out the two of us had a lot in common.
JAM: Were you interviewing him, or just happen to run into him?
I didn't go there specifically to speak to him. The two of us just sort of ran into each other and started talking. We ended up opening for him come to think of it. I don't know if it was his doing, but we opened for them at a club, and it was one of our very first shows before a big crowd. It was a weird coincidence meeting Trent, but I've always found with those kinds of encounters, don't question them. Over the years, he stayed in contact with me. I would send him tapes of what we were doing out of friendship, because he seemed to like our band. Then he worked out his deal with Interscope to have his own label, Nothing. He gave me a call and said he wanted to sign me. I told Trent what I wanted to do musically and it was fine with him.
JAM: What exactly did you tell him?
I told him we wanted to put out a record of songs that we already had and didn't want to compromise on anything. We wanted to be unexpurgated; we wanted to take it as far as we could go. We weren't a band that wanted to sit around and wait for something to happen, we wanted to make it happen. We were willing to work for it as hard as we had to. That was fine with him. The funny thing is, we had a hard time getting our first record out because the distributor didn't like the tone of the music. They found the material objectionable.
JAM: This would have been WEA doing the distribution?
Yes. They seemed to come around in the end. I think maybe they actually listened to the record. When you hear the name Marilyn Manson, there's initially a knee-jerk reaction to it. That is often intentional on our part, because it's a weeding out process. There's going to be people who are going to have that reaction and are not going to get what we're doing. They were never going to get it and I don't want them to. In the grand scheme of things, these people had no place in what we were doing. Then there's going to be the people who see the name Marilyn Manson, and understand, like the sign outside of an amusement park that says, "Ride at your own risk!" They're going to know there's danger there. They like the intrigue because it allows them to face up to their own fear. Those people are going to get who we are.
JAM: Have you found during the years you've been developing this project that people are fascinated by terrible things that can't physically harm them, but they want to experience the sensation of that fear anyway?
Absolutely! People are afraid of death and afraid of dealing with things that are going to cause them anguish. They like to live vicariously through other people to experience those emotions. That's why they read their true crime books and stop at car accidents to get a peek. They listen to Marilyn Manson because they thrive off of what they hear. It's the people who don't want to admit they have these same fascinations, and fears, who point a finger at Marilyn Manson and say, "You are the problem in America. It is people like you that make our kids grow up to be like this, or hurt themselves!" The thing is Marilyn Manson is just a symptom of the problem they have created. If we are offensive, then turn us off, walk away. It is your responsibility, not ours.
JAM: We are living in a world where the word "blame" is bandied about without any thought as to the reasons why the aspersion is being cast in the first place.
I couldn't agree with you more. We have been raised on American television, caffeine, sugar, nicotine, alcohol, drugs, violence, sex, pornography. After we have grown up, this generation, which you're probably a part of too, has decided through political correctness, religion and the media they want to take it back now, because they don't think people are handling it correctly. Their way of righting the problem is to give you Nutrasweet, caffeine free coke, less violence on TV. They want to keep you from seeing Marilyn Manson because it is pornographic. These ‘powers that be' want to do all these things because they are convinced you can't handle yourself. America always wants to protect you from yourself. In the process, they made Marilyn Manson and now they have to deal with it. You see, we are a reflection of them and that's hard to swallow. They've never seen themselves in any other way than the one they have fabricated. That's because they are living a lie and toeing the line.
JAM: What is it that Marilyn Manson does today that is so shocking that it can't already be seen in a TV show or featured on an evening news report out of Chicago where kids are killing other kids with guns?
Absolutely nothing! The only difference I see is this. If news outlets are featuring violence on their telecasts, they are making money off of it because they are attracting viewers. That in turn draws advertisers. If I'm showing the same type of hostility in concert, they aren't making money. The glorification of violence all comes down to money. It has nothing to do with morality. News programs don't give a fuck about people being hurt unless they can somehow translate that into boosting their ratings. If you ever followed the trail of money, you'd get the big picture of what I'm talking about.
JAM: Television talk shows have already covered the controversial subjects you delve into with your lyrics.
Exactly! There are no consequences when those particular programs air either. The more controversial the subject, the higher the ratings and the bigger audience draw these programs receive.
JAM: So what exactly is this fear mongering coming out of Marilyn Manson that's supposed to be so upsetting?
I don't think we're doing anything immoral or obscene. What critics fail to realize is everything in America is a popularity contest. The law is what's popular, not what is right or wrong. Morality is designed to benefit the people who created it, not those controlled by it. We are suggesting, along the philosophical lines of Nietzche and Lavay, that morality is something you decide for yourself. You are your own God on earth. You make your own decisions; you are responsible for your own actions. You should be able to do what you want. There shouldn't be any gun laws or drug laws. They should let those who want to live do so, and those wish to end it all finish the job. It's the law of the jungle. People are always complaining about giving animals human rights. Well, humans should have animal rights. If you hurt yourself, or you hurt someone, then you have to deal with the consequences. Don't try to blame it on music or some film. That's your thing to live with. There are too many people in the world. There needs to some sort of natural selection. There needs to be social Darwinism applied. There needs to be something to balance things out because there are too many stupid people. And those that are stupid are ruining it for other people who are trying to do something with their lives. If you're too stupid to live then get out of my way, because you're just raining on my parade.
JAM: It seems to me that when you write about a controversial subject and then set it to music, for some reason those words spring to life and people then look at you in a different light.
That is something that I discovered early on. When it came to putting my ideas to music, it seemed to get the message across as opposed to just saying them out loud. The process doesn't work for everyone. You can only define it as something that's magic when it does occur. There is no explanation for it, but once you tap into it and start to use it to your advantage, you can accomplish objectives other people can't. That is something that's very hard to do, and something I strive for constantly. I don't necessarily say I accomplish it at all times with the songs I write, but it is something that's a goal of mine to always strive for each time I express myself on an album.
JAM: Had your family not moved from Ohio to Ft. Lauderdale, would this alter ego you created, Marilyn Manson, had ever come to life?
That's a good question. I actually think about that scenario sometimes. Truthfully, maybe not! That sort of question scares me in all honesty. It makes me wonder if something happened to me in Florida unconsciously that sort of set this thing off, or inspired this to happen. Maybe it was the isolation I was feeling when we moved down here. I know that I have always had these thoughts in my head. I don't know if I would have had the courage to try and express them if it hadn't been for a series of events that led me down this way.
JAM: Did the isolation you felt in Ft. Lauderdale as a teen force you to look deep inside yourself for comfort, or did a series of events in Ohio you had suppressed for a long time finally rise to the surface bringing about this transformation inside you?
You bring up some interesting points; maybe so. I felt a lot of isolation in my childhood because of being too skinny or having a stupid haircut. I was always picked on. I went to a Christian school up until 10th grade. I didn't fit in there because my parents only sent me there to get a good education. They weren't very religious and I didn't go to church. I was the only kid there who didn't fit into the program. A kid at the public high school I attended from my neighborhood always beat my ass because I was the kid from the private school. I really had nowhere to go, it was hard. I'm not complaining, but some of these things may have formed, or shaped, this alter ego I eventually created.
JAM: I asked about the move because my last year in high school, my family moved from Indianapolis to Oklahoma City. If you think going from Ohio to Florida is a shock, try uprooting from Indiana and going out west to Oklahoma. That was a true cultural shock. I felt I had stepped back in time. There were wet and dry counties, bring your own liquor bottle to a restaurant if you want a mixed drink, 3.2 beer. I mean hell, who ever heard of 3.2 beer?
I guess you could say that the transition my family made helped me to develop a thicker skin. It definitely mad me more aware of my surroundings, whether I fit into it or not.
I think it comes out in the song "Lunchbox" on our debut album. The answer is revealed during the course of that song. I always had this "I'll show you someday attitude." Everybody always discounted me growing up that I'd never amount to anything. It was always a situation where the popular girl didn't like me because I wasn't playing sports or hung around with the right friends. Now, with what I'm doing, this is kind of my payback. I'd like to see those people again and say, "Alright, now what do you think?" It would be a weird irony one of these days to run in to one of those popular girls from high school and her not know who I am. She would speak to me and I, knowing who she is, would say nothing back.
JAM: Come on Brian, you'd be reverting back to high school behavior. John Mellencamp told me one time he ran across that situation in Seymour, Indiana where he grew up. People in his hometown used to make fun of his name change to John Cougar, and especially the music he was creating. As soon as he made it to the big time, his detractors all patted him on the back and said they knew he'd make it one day. John said he knew those people were full of shit, they knew they were full of shit, but he smiled, thanked them for the support and moved on.
I know, but what I'm telling you is events from the past shape our lives and sort of lead, or direct us on a path we can either follow or ignore. That's what my experience with school, both public and private, did for me. It helped shape and create this other person that was lurking in my brain until the right time occurred to bring it to life.
JAM: Did you consider going to college?
I did for a while, but I quit because I wasn't learning anything. I was wasting my money. I invested four years in the University of Marilyn Manson pretty much. This is my job and my college degree paid off.
JAM: Was it difficult to find like-minded musicians who viewed the world through the same set of glasses you were looking through?
Well, as a matter-of-fact, yes it was. We went through a lot of musicians, particular bass players, before the band settled down. We even switched out bass players after the first album was complete. We finished the record and had to separate from our bass player because he was, well, let's just say there was a very dependent personality involved. He wasn't that strong-willed of a person. He got wrapped up in abuse of all things. If it wasn't drugs, he'd find something else, but he had an addictive personality. We've always been about being strong and in control of ourselves. He wasn't like that.
JAM: Are you happy?
I am very happy, yeah. People will often misinterpret my demeanor as being miserable. I see where things are screwed up, but I'm not complaining. I'm documenting it. What I do as a songwriter is almost journalistic in a way by saying this is the way it is. You have to decide how you are going to deal with the subject matter. If things weren't this fucked up in the world, I don't think Marilyn Manson would exist.
JAM: When you say things are screwed up, what are you alluding to?
You know, political correctness, government putting down an iron fist, Fascism in America. When that happens, the powers that be don't care about anything but money. Then they start to inflict these morals on you when they don't even care about them.
JAM: You know a vast majority of people are followers, not leaders. All you have to do is look at the political landscape today to understand that.
That is a good example. Some people need to be led around like sheep. These people can't handle the reality of being themselves. They don't know how. I'm not complaining. Obviously I am selling my message and people are buying it. Admit what you are. I certainly do. I'm here to be an entertainer, to maybe say something to make you think. That is my job. I make money at what I do. I'm not trying to say I don't want to make money, I don't want to be a star, or I don't want to be famous. I'm not going to be one of these bands that gets up on the podium and complains about stardom. Critics tend to think I'm not honest because Marilyn Manson has an extreme image, or what we do isn't the true us. There is nothing contrived about this band.
JAM: So what people see up on that stage and hear in the music is what Marilyn Manson is all about?
That is me being honest. It is the truest form of my personality that I can ever relate to anybody. I often find when I'm not on stage, that's when I struggle to be somebody who I'm not. People often expect me to be different in public than I am when performing. They expect me to know that what I do as a profession is just a show. When it's over, I should revert back into someone else. The problem people have with me is this. When they see my personal lifestyle reflects who I am on stage, they just don't know how to deal with it. I'm a composite of two distinct personalities. It's not easily defined as off stage and on stage, or vice versa. It's just easily defined as Marilyn Manson. That is the balance I'm comfortable with. Sometimes I'm nice, sometimes I'm not. There's a right time for everything.
JAM: Why expose your thoughts and ideas to the world when you know you're opening yourself up to scorn and ridicule? It's almost as though you're reliving those bully moments you endured growing up. Doesn't it get tiresome after a while?
Once again, you're making an excellent point. Yes it does get tiresome, but I'm conflicted as to whether I feel somewhat a responsibility to myself to exorcise those demons. Maybe my happiness is tied in with the observations I make of the world around me. I find pleasure in trying to show people viewpoints outside of what they have grown up knowing. I want to show people they can break out of their programming, break out of the herd mentality. When I meet kids who say they love my music and understand what we're about, that's more of a reward than any paycheck.
JAM: What light does the live performance of Marilyn Manson shed on an audience that the music itself does not?
People get what they want out of you when they come and see you in concert. There's no way you can express any certain one truth that everyone is going to get. Every person coming to my show is looking for something. Some may want entertainment. Some may come to Marilyn Manson to have a good time. Some may want to get into the pit and get physical. Some people may come to our show to hate it. That's extreme. Some people may get meaning out of it. They might interpret what I say in a certain way that might inspire them to make a move or do something with their life.
JAM: Are you always going to dwell on the same dark observations of life when it comes to making music?
No, not at all! The ideas I talk about will be different, but exposing the same truths. There are always different enemies to be had and different loves to be discovered.
JAM: Do you think you have defined Marilyn Manson, or do you prefer to keep the image constantly evolving?
It's always evolving. When I write music, I want people to understand their fear. I want them to know why they are afraid. I want to educate them.
JAM: People are afraid of losing their jobs. Are you going to write an album around that subject?
It could happen. That's an important area to address. What originally happened with this band was this. The press focused on the serial killer aspect of Marilyn Manson. I don't sing any songs about serial killers. It did, however, prove my point that America has this morbid fascination with death. There is definitely a strange balance there between turning these sadistic people into stars, and dealing with the harsh reality of the crimes they committed.
JAM: The O.J. Simpson murder trial certainly demonstrated this country's fascination with death.
Exactly! For some reason, segments of our society will often attach themselves to the serial killer thing in our name. I'll say, "Look, I have never mentioned the word ‘murdered' or said ‘serial killer'. Marilyn Manson is just two words." America turned both of these people, Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson into stars. You know what their single names mean. You know what you're getting when you mention the names. This theory may not make sense in another country. The term ‘serial killer' is a very American phenomenon because the American family is so masochistic raising kids to feel ashamed and guilty all the time. You are preached to about being born a sinner and seeking redemption, and all sorts of other concepts. It's easy to see why kids have grown up confused and ashamed as to whom and what they are. That's where you get teen suicide and serial killers.
JAM: Did you grow up that way?
No, I didn't. All my friends did, and I had to watch them go through all these horrible situations.
JAM: So you weren't exactly a loner growing up?
Even loners gravitate to others like themselves. Yes, I had some friends growing up.
JAM: Does your family understand what you are doing?
They understand what I'm doing more and more each day. I don't know if they have ever grasped it all, but I have sat down and had conversations with my parents about what I do.
JAM: Is there any real difference between Marilyn Manson and tabloid journalism?
Admitting my hypocrisy brings me a pinch closer to the truth, but there's no difference between me, them, you, or any of us. We're all the same. We all have the same motivation, fears and fascinations. It's just how you interpret it in your lifestyle. Tabloids make money off sensationalism. I make money off it as well. Talk shows do the same thing. They look for victims because they make money off their personal conflicts. I'm more into asking the question why. Why do you need this sensationalism? Why does it piss you off when Marilyn Manson points it out? What are you afraid of? I hope I can get people a little closer to the truth once they start exploring what Marilyn Manson is about.
JAM: What comes first, the music or the journey to discover the person behind it?
Well, the conversation all centers on whether or not a person likes the music. If they don't, then it's a moot point. The music is the first thing. It allows me to have these conversations with you. Obviously if people didn't care about the music, you and I wouldn't be talking now because what I say wouldn't matter. No one would care about the band. My first job is to write songs. It's the one true form of expression that allows us the opportunity to really speak to people. So far, they're listening.